Indiana biofuels firm signs Vietnam pact-WEB ONLY

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Lake County didn’t want Indianapolis-based Agresti Biofuels LLC, but Vietnam has just issued a warm welcome.

Agresti, an ethanol-making venture that includes big Indianapolis engineering firm RW Armstrong, has signed an agreement with Vietnam’s Phuc Yen Co. to build and operate ethanol facilities in Vietnam.

Agresti’s venture will produce ethanol from landfill waste in Vietnam using a gravity-pressure-vessel technology. It was the same technology Agresti proposed bringing to Lake County last year in an $80 million plant, but the Lake County Solid Waste Management District chose another vendor.

Formerly known as Indiana Ethanol Power, Agresti plans to start building its first U.S. project in Pike County, Ky., this spring.

Previously, Armstrong manager Zbigniew Resiak told IBJ the ethanol venture has the potential to construct about a dozen such facilities in Indiana, but would also be looking elsewhere.

The ethanol venture started with financial backing from Oppenheimer & Co. and RBC Capital Markets Corp, an arm of Royal Bank of Canada. Armstrong, which employs about 200 people in Indianapolis, did not disclose the extent of its investment.

The gravity-pressure-vessel technology that Agresti obtained from GeneSyst International consists of a 2,000-foot-deep hole driven into the ground and lined with steel. A slurry of oatmeal-like cellulose processed from trash drops into the shaft under extreme pressure and heat. The sugar-like substance is pumped back up for distillation into the automotive fuel ethanol.

Such so-called cellulosic ethanol processes are being explored as an alternative to making the fuel from food staple corn.

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